GRAN PAVESE – The modern ’travelling paintings’

In 1988 the Dutch Gran Pavese Foundation launched a unique outdoor exhibition of 50 exclusive works of contemporary art – huge textile prints (2x3m) presented as flags on the dikes of Holland.

50 Artists from all over the world designed their very individual interpretation of medium ‘flag’. Among them Bridget Riley (UK) and Alighiero Boetti (Italy); Ay-O (Japan); Bazile and Messager (France); Keith Haring and Bill Copley (USA); Hanne Darboven (Germany); Rob Scholte (Netherlands). The list is long, the diversity of techniques, themes and interpretations is rich and colorful. Combined the 50 flags offer a unique view into the modern art of the late eighties. Each flag has been produced in a limited edition of 10 and IV. The artists have signed and numbered their respective flags on a Gran Pavese certificate.

The colorful exhibition attracted crowds of visitors to Neeltje Jans, a coastal landmark in the province of Zeeland. From there the exhibition travelled the world, to places like the river borders of Frankfurt, the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the Chinese Wall, Paris and the Museum of Contemporary ART MUHKA in Antwerp, Belgium.

Where ever the project was on display it evoked much response. Using the flag as a medium, artists were able to communicate their art and ideas in the outdoor public space, away from the traditional exhibition space or museum; the public was able to compare, comment and react in this unexpected enviroment.

The strength of Gran Pavese is not only expressed by the project as a whole. The quality of the individual creativity in combination with the high quality printed textiles by the world famous Dokummer Vlaggen Centrale and Faber Vlaggen, leads to very versatile art works.When displayed indoors on a wall they become large scale paintings, whilst still having flexibility. They can be seen as a modern varation of medieval tapestries, which also had the function of ’traveling paintings’.

The project resulted in fifty unique flag interpretations by artists like Marina Abramovic, Vito Acconci, Valerio Adami, John Armleder, Alighiero Boetti, JeanMarc Bustamante, William Copley, Hanne Daarboven, Nicola De Maria, Jiri Georg Dokoupil, Erro, Gunther Forg, Keith Haring, Joseph Kosuth, Robert Longo, Bruce McLean, Annete Messager, Francois Morellet, Mat Mullican, Bridget Riley, Rob Scholte, Joe Tilson, Ben Vautier and Lawrence Weiner.

The line up of participating artists in Gran Pavese is impressive. It’s fair to conclude that Dutch art historians Peter van Beveren and Thèrèse Legierse who initiated the project 25 years ago, have made a very strong selection indeed. Practically all of the 50 artists from 10 countries have continued a strong development of their talents and careers since 1988. It is reflected by each artist’s strong curriculum and the appreciation of their work by museums, renowned galleries and art collectors around the world.

Outdoor exhibitions around the world in 1988 – 1989
Museum of Contemporary Art MUHKA, Antwerp, Belgium 1988

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